What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

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What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:44 pm

Litigation allows senior associates and young partners to open boutiques. All the entrepreneurial lawyers I know have gone this route. I'm personally more drawn to corporate work, but I am unsure if you can open a boutique in the same fashion. Clients that tend to support transactional-only lawyers (ie not litigators that happen to do non-compete/trade secrets transactional work) are much larger, and they tend to want to hire large, established firms.

Any thoughts on this? Anecdotes are welcome.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:51 pm

Transactional attorneys don't go out on their own, they go in house.

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ExBiglawAssociate
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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:04 pm

Corp --> beta corporate slave for life

Lit --> buff alpha bootstrappin bro making a go of it on his own

HTH

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:03 pm

I've heard of a corps lawyer and lit lawyer teaming up to open a firm and hiring associates. I have no idea what kind of clients the corps lawyer brought in. I imagine it is easier to open up shop as a litigator.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:07 pm

A bit anecdotal and probably fairly specific to SF/SV, but I know a couple successful boutique lawyers who struck out on their own immediately after graduating from what used to be a bottom T2 to do small transactional work for tech startups. I think they're the exception, though, and they had a network ready to answer questions that were out of their depth. They do zero litigation.

EDIT: accidental anon, sap.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby aces » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:20 pm

Boutiques that focus on transactional work are much, much less common than litigation boutiques, especially if you're defining boutique as a firm that charges biglaw-level rates but which is sub-50 employees (i.e., not mid/small-law, but also not Wachtell). It's certainly possible, especially in niche areas (i.e. VC/PE, bankruptcy, tax, entertainment, IP, etc.), but your intuition is right that established corporations almost never retain small firms to handle M&A or finance or securities work.

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Old Gregg
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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Old Gregg » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:44 pm

Transactional small shops are actually pretty common, just not as well known as, say, Bickel & Brewer. You won't be doing $1 billion deals, but you can do a lot of standard corporate work for many local business, and start-ups if there is a scene for that. Rates can be interesting, but if you really want upside you should get equity.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby aces » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:08 am

Fresh Prince wrote:Transactional small shops are actually pretty common, just not as well known as, say, Bickel & Brewer. You won't be doing $1 billion deals, but you can do a lot of standard corporate work for many local business, and start-ups if there is a scene for that. Rates can be interesting, but if you really want upside you should get equity.

Yeah, there are lots of small law firms doing incorporations, licensing agreements, asset sale/purchase, etc. But I would call few of these firms "boutiques" in the way that law students throw that term around, and becoming a standard biglaw corporate associate is not that helpful in terms of helping you develop the skills and substantive expertise necessary to start one of those firms.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:20 am

Agreed with the above. Doing one-off incorporations and asset sales isn't going to rise to the level of being a boutique. It just doesn't bring in enough money, at any billable rate.

The SV example is likely a good one. I find that a lot of startup/technology lawyers seem to be generalists, which is somewhat of a prereq to being able to open a boutique. Most biglaw associates focus on work that is way too narrow in scope to be able to service a likely broader range of corporate work required at a boutique.

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Old Gregg
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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:22 am

aces wrote:
Fresh Prince wrote:Transactional small shops are actually pretty common, just not as well known as, say, Bickel & Brewer. You won't be doing $1 billion deals, but you can do a lot of standard corporate work for many local business, and start-ups if there is a scene for that. Rates can be interesting, but if you really want upside you should get equity.

Yeah, there are lots of small law firms doing incorporations, licensing agreements, asset sale/purchase, etc. But I would call few of these firms "boutiques" in the way that law students throw that term around, and becoming a standard biglaw corporate associate is not that helpful in terms of helping you develop the skills and substantive expertise necessary to start one of those firms.


...I didn't call them boutiques.

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Tom Joad
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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:16 am

Just do wills.

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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby aces » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:32 am

Fresh Prince wrote:
aces wrote:
Fresh Prince wrote:Transactional small shops are actually pretty common, just not as well known as, say, Bickel & Brewer. You won't be doing $1 billion deals, but you can do a lot of standard corporate work for many local business, and start-ups if there is a scene for that. Rates can be interesting, but if you really want upside you should get equity.

Yeah, there are lots of small law firms doing incorporations, licensing agreements, asset sale/purchase, etc. But I would call few of these firms "boutiques" in the way that law students throw that term around, and becoming a standard biglaw corporate associate is not that helpful in terms of helping you develop the skills and substantive expertise necessary to start one of those firms.


...I didn't call them boutiques.

I know, but the OP mentioned them, so I thought I'd clarify for his/her benefit.

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Old Gregg
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Re: What's better for striking out on your own: Lit or Corps

Postby Old Gregg » Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:57 am

So another reason litigation boutiques are more "well known" and seem profitable is victories from contingency fee cases, which bring in a lot of money. This isn't really that prevalent in corporate, where firms can take a percentage of the enterprise value of a deal, mostly because unless you're Wachtell, you're not getting the kind of deals nor do you have the name it takes to charge those kinds of fees. Again, the best way to win it solo in corporate, if you're really focused on making $$$, is to get equity stakes. All it takes is one of your clients to make it big and you've got yourself a new Caddy.




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